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Child abuse

(24 Posts)
Lilygran Mon 08-Dec-14 10:07:11

This article in the Guardian says one in six boys and one in four girls under 16 has been sexually abused. If it's true, we can't go on thinking of abusers as a very small evil minority, can we?

Ariadne Mon 08-Dec-14 10:16:23

And even if, as the NSPCC are quoted as saying, it is one child in twenty, it is still horrific. I wonder what the numbers were in the past? But then no one would have disclosed, I suppose. Some sort of comparative figures would be helpful.

Elegran Mon 08-Dec-14 10:41:38

What level of abuse are they talking about? Is it systematic contact abuse within the family or social circle, or having a willie flashed at them by a passerby (the latter seems to have happened to almost every woman I know, some many many years ago, and it is remembered but not agonised over)

We must be careful not to pin the label on all men and a lot of women. Most are horrified at the thought of the crime.

whenim64 Mon 08-Dec-14 11:40:41

From the statistics we used in work with sex offenders, one in six report that they have experienced some form of sexual abuse ranging from hands-off to hands-on offences.

soontobe Mon 08-Dec-14 11:44:11

This is part the reason I was posting so much on the thread that was on here about the single person ban at a family outing place - I forget the name of it now.

The general public has been asleep on this issue for decades.

Nelliemoser Mon 08-Dec-14 11:44:22

Elegran Those were my thoughts on those figures. They need to make it clearer what sort of incidents they are defining. I know that they all are technically sexual assaults.

soontobe Mon 08-Dec-14 11:47:36

If they cant see it, it isnt happening, is how a lot of people think.

Elegran Mon 08-Dec-14 12:16:01

I am not saying it doesn't happen, I am asking exactly what the figures mean.

If one in six boys and one in four girls has been subjected to sexual abuse aimed personally at them, physically assaulted or made to contribute some other way to someone's fantasies, then it is an epidemic. The only sure way to counter that is to put bromide into the drinking water the same way as fluoride is added to protect the nation's teeth.

If they are counting in some proportion who have at some time unexpectedly been shown a penis/phallus by a flasher, without having to engage with it/him in any other way, then it is still a serious matter, but not one which demands that we demonise all fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers, teachers, doctors, dentists, sports coaches, and are suspicious of all mothers, aunties, sisters, grandmothers, nurses, playgroup leaders, ballet teachers, swimming instructors, the lot.

anniezzz09 Mon 08-Dec-14 12:20:54

There is also a known connection between sexual abuse and the abuse of animals (I mean cruelty to animals as well as sexual abuse of animals). The RSPCA and NSPCC have done research on this.

Last Tuesday Woman's Hour had a, to me terrifying report, on men (usually) who target women so they can have children with them which they then intend to abuse. Apparently convicted abusers still have rights to see or know about their children (through at the very least educational and health records) and so they can go on interfering in their children's lives and the other parent can't stop them. It's worth going back and listening to the podcast. There is a charity dealing with this:

It's too easy to minimise abuse on the basis of that's just what happened in the past. I don't know that willie flashing is necessarily harmless. If you're a woman maybe not, but if you are a child, yes perhaps and where would you draw the age limit? How a child will react depends on how sexual matters are dealt with in their families and how generally sensitive they are.

Do we want a kind of prioritised list of offences? I can't imagine what this would include but thinking about it I find myself not wanting to try because it would be so offensive. I heard a policeman who worked on photos of sexual abuse say on the radio the other day that he had seen photos of children being abused in every possible way you could imagine and more. My imagination fails me.

Young people these days are much better equipped through education to understand how to protect themselves but even so I think all of us have to accept that it more prevalent than we would like to think. I'm not quite sure how to then draw boundaries about who is allowed to be with children and how to monitor. Like others, I hate the fact that these days you can't smile at someone else's child without getting a bad reaction.

It doesn't seem to happen in France and Italy where families are out and about more, there is more overt cuddling and kissing and children are seen to be loved and accepted. I'd guess abuse happens there too though I haven't tried to look up any statistics. I think the growth of pornography doesn't help at all.

soontobe Mon 08-Dec-14 12:32:43

I agree with anniezzz09

I know of a child aged 9[not me], who had a stranger man put a hand down her knickers. That was it, just a hand.

She never forgot it.

anniezzz09 Mon 08-Dec-14 12:38:54

I was moved by the testimony of one of the 'lesser' victims in Rolf Harris's trial. Who are we to try to tell someone that a grope, a kiss, a leer is of no consequence?

ffinnochio Mon 08-Dec-14 12:56:04

Although I understand why a breakdown by percentages might be useful in determining long term financing of resources by judicial, social, police and medical services, I think it's a mistake to turn this issue into a numbers game. Very difficult to use comparisons of time and place, type of abuse, how and by whom.

whenim64 Mon 08-Dec-14 13:11:15

Convicted sexual abusers don't have rights regarding children. They might be given contact at some point, but not unless or until they can demonstrate their risk of reoffending is low enough for them to be allowed supervised contact and the authorities don't oppose it. The rights belong to the children, not the adults. Some try invoking human rights 'to a family life' but the children's rights take priority.

The statistics on child sexual abuse are global, collated over decades. France and Italy have exactly the same problems with abuse.

No-one who learns the extent to which children may be sexually abused/violently violated would doubt the impact it has on them. Tiny children, big strong adults. It's not always the physical contact - threats and unnerving details being inflicted on children can be traumatic, too. The damage, psychologically and physically, can be hard and many times impossible to get over. Counselling and good support is needed for people like police officers who see those images of abuse - sadly, many do not receive it and can be traumatised by what they have seen. Resilience that we might have to deal with the usual life events doesn't often help here, especially where children have not felt safe and secure during their short lives.

whenim64 Mon 08-Dec-14 13:15:19

Well said, ffin. As long as any child is being subjected to abuse, there's a society that needs educating how to protect children and teach them how to expect to be treated with care and kindness.

anniezzz09 Mon 08-Dec-14 13:51:29

whenim64 you sound like you probably know something about this area of offences. The programme I mentioned said that because offenders can, at the very least, see medical and educational records it means that the family can never truly get completely away. I suppose that means a kind of stalking, I can imagine perpetrators are manipulative and persistent. The programme also featured a case study where half the family refused to accept that the abuser was an abuser despite his conviction. With this level of denial what hope is there of instituting change?

In fact, where is even the beginning of a way of tackling this amount of abuse? My own three daughters will talk of the casual mysogyny they have been and are on the end of. That's another form of abuse but it seems linked to me as does the whole question of a rampant bullying culture. It's no wonder people try to bury their heads.

petallus Mon 08-Dec-14 14:11:34

This involves adult women but did anyone see the recent program on what it was like to be a secretary in the 50s and 60s?

The attitudes, expectations and behaviour of bosses would be criminal by today's standards.

whenim64 Mon 08-Dec-14 14:27:24

Access to medical and educational records is implemented for many people eg when parents separate and they get their own copies of reports.

With sex offenders, teachers and heads of schools are included in high risk multi-agency meetings where it is discussed whether it would be safe to send such documents to the abuser - if agreed, many can be abridged in order to prevent inappropriate information being given, such as addresses if the child has moved home. Some sex offenders will be given reports verbally via a social worker or probation officer, always with the safety of the child in mind. The children should not be aware and if this is jeopardised by either parent, it will stop.

This doesn't happen 'at the very least' as the programme you mention has said - sloppy reporting. Many convicted sex offenders lose their families completely and a request for some medical and educational information would not be successful. There will be confidential markers on records just in case of such scenarios. A registered sex offender trying to 'stalk' a child from a distance would find himself in deep trouble - if still on a licence with built-in condition 'not to attempt to contact directly or indirectly' he'd be back inside before he knew it.

sunseeker Mon 08-Dec-14 14:41:28

I think the long term answer to protecting children is for them to be taught that certain parts of their bodies should not be touched by anyone except in the case of medical professionals and then only if their mother or father is present. When my brothers children were small he taught them that if anyone approached them who they were unsure of they were to shout as loudly as possible "I need an adult".

whenim64 Mon 08-Dec-14 14:41:30

Sorry, that was my reply to Annie

Brendawymms Mon 08-Dec-14 15:28:10

Many many years ago there was a murder of a child to the East of London. The child's clothes were found in a hole in a tree. It was widely ALLEGED that the police, during their investigation, found so much child abuse and incest in the same area that they were unable to investigate it.

When working within Mental Health field I always found it amazing the high number of people with mental health problems that had been abused. Some had clear knowledge of it but some must have been very young as their understanding was often of a pictorial nature.

nightowl Mon 08-Dec-14 16:34:53

The problem is that the rate of conviction for sex offenders is very low. When there is insufficient evidence to bring charges, or they are cleared, they can carry on living with their children and there is very little the authorities can do about it. The children may be subject to child protection plans, there may be ongoing involvement by social workers and other services for years, but what use is that when the alleged abuser is 'innocent' and laughs in the face of the professionals involved (metaphorically speaking - they can be amongst the most charming and cooperative of clients, but it means nothing). The partner will want to believe there is no risk, the child is silenced, and so it continues. These are the most difficult and soul destroying cases to deal with and sadly far from rare.

whenim64 Mon 08-Dec-14 16:45:40

So true, nightowl. I remember one man, who did eventually get convicted when the family children were adults. He had the nerve to stand with groups of vigilantes, waving a placard demanding 'paedos out' when two sex offenders were accommodated locally in an approved hostel. He signed petitions and mustered local people to join in. Presented himself as a pillar if the community and would drive elderly people to luncheon club. You can imagine how people felt when they learned what he had been doing for years.

anniezzz09 Mon 08-Dec-14 17:41:35

petallus I worked for a while in the 1970s as a secretary and men behaved badly then too. Even in the 1980s I can remember being cornered and groped when I was a manager and you weren't expected to complain!

It's good that the authorities protect where they can but as the original article indicated, abuse is widespread and can be emotional as well as physical and take many forms. It's a can of worms and now that it has been opened it may allow women and men to reframe their childhood experiences. If that leads to prosecution well and good, hopefully it will also mean some adults will work to ensure it doesn't happen to other children.

Iam64 Mon 08-Dec-14 18:39:12

My work with families left me in no doubt that the extent of child sexual abuse has been so under estimated that it's dangerous. When the Jimmy Saville story first broke, many people rushed to condemn the alleged victims yet it seems now to be accepted he was a prolific sex offender.

I heard the piece on Womens Hour that anniez referred to earlier. I was sorting the kitchen out, but found myself back with many (mostly) mothers, in states of real anxiety because the father in prison for abusing their children still had parental responsibility. In more than a few cases, the father was writing to doctors, schools etc seeking information about their children's progress. One school insisted on sending school reports (with addresses blanked out) to father's in prison. This was despite the opposition of the mother and in cases where the children were old enough, the child victim.

I support whenim64's comments about the excellent attempts by probation staff and their multi agency colleagues to manage the risk.